SAIGON RESAURANT, 4455 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115, 619-284-4215.
I always plan on trying out the latest, hottest, hippest restaurants when I get to San Diego, but when I'm actually there, I only crave straightforward, GOOD, back-to-my-roots Vietnamese food. After a crazy overstimulating session at ComicCon, I couldn't WAIT to see my parents over fabulous dinner. We decided on Saigon Restaurant (yes, back AGAIN to City Heights, the mellow hood of East San Diego) since it was the closest to downtown and the only option for quality, fresh seafood (in-house live tanks) with one of the BEST lobster recipes ever. Bro and I got there a little past 8pm and located my parents waiting with huge smiles next to the fish aquarium in the back. I miss them so much! As expected, my mom took liberty of ordering ahead and the food started coming out as soon as we sat down.
She picked a gigantic 5-lb lobster from the tank (five pounds!). My visit was the perfect excuse to order Lobster wok-seared in French butter. (Clarification: NOT drawn butter!) Potent smell of sweet buttery garlicky lobster filled the room when the waiter walked out of the kitchen carrying the platter. The claws were about a foot long (omg!). Meaty and tender, each bite was an explosion of complex flavors and textures. The best part is licking/gnawing on the shells :) (The lobster aroma was intoxicating and seemed to be suffocating Bro!)
Clams arrived still sizzling in the clay pot. They were done to PERFECTION, plump and juicy, flavorful, clean, spicy, and tossed in black bean sauce with ginger, scallion and hot chili. The sauce over rice is... UNREAL. Love this dish.
The Bi Cuon, my mom's fave, came big and fat. The only way to eat it was to cut it up into little segments. The fish sauce here is mixed with fresh minced garlic which gives it extra depth. Super addicting fish sauce.
A happy table is a MESSY ONE... a disaster zone of heavenly poetic flavors! I ordered a Vietnamese ice coffee to take with me (to keep my buzz going). Can't believe they still give out fortune cookies with the tab. FYI: The lobster (at $17 a pound, 5 lbs total) came to $85, the clams under $10, the bi cuon $3. This should give you an idea of the range in pricing. Something delicious for ANY fiscal mood.And a little later, I met up with longtime girlfriend Alex at Extraordinary Desserts (Little Italy, downtown) for some girl talk over some nibbles.
|EXTRAORDINARY DESSERTS, 1430 Union St, San Diego, CA 92101, 619-294-7001|